The health industry stampede to cloud computing

imageStampede?  OK, that would be a bit of an exaggeration.  But even I found a new poll conducted by CDW to be surprising and quite encouraging.  As I travel about the USA and the world talking with health industry customers, I find there’s a genuine interest in cloud computing.  The flexibility, scalability and lower costs associated with moving certain line of business applications to the cloud are compelling, especially for an industry like healthcare.  After all, the primary focus of hospitals and clinics is caring for patients, not running an IT empire.  There’s not a CIO, CFO, CEO, COO, CNO, CMIO, or CMO who wouldn’t love to shift some of their IT spending to delivering better care to the communities they serve.

So, what’s actually going on out there?  Can health organizations overcome concerns they might have about moving business critical applications to the cloud?  Apparently, yes.  According to CDW’s Cloud Computing Tracking Poll, an assessment of current and future cloud computing made by polling 1200 IT professionals, 30 percent of healthcare organizations are classified as cloud adopters.image

As defined by CDW, cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources such as networks, servers, storage, applications and services, that can be rapidly provisioned.

In the report published by Healthcare IT News, David Cottingham, senior director, managed services at CDW, said, "Many organizations are carefully – and selectively – moving into cloud computing, as well they should, because it represents a significant shift in how computing resources are provided and managed." “With thoughtful planning, organizations can realize benefits that align directly with their organizational goals: consolidated IT infrastructure, reduced IT energy and capital costs, and 'anywhere' access to documents and applications."  The kinds of applications that are most commonly operated in the cloud are so-called “commodity” applications such as email (24 percent of healthcare respondents), file storage (19 percent of healthcare respondents), Web and video conferencing (39 percent of healthcare respondents), and online learning (12 percent of healthcare respondents).

imageMoving your “commodity” applications to the cloud is an excellent place to start.  I’d suggest first reaching out to your health industry peers and professional organizations to get a better sense of who’s doing what.  I think when you’ve learned about some of the best health industry practices in cloud computing, you’ll be ready to explore what might be possible in your own organization.  Once you’ve done that, reach out to your Microsoft account executive, system integrator, or visit for more information.   Your CFO, patients, and community will thank you. 

Bill Crounse, MD                             Senior Director, Worldwide Health            Microsoft 

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